Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) can be as mystifying for the sufferer as it can be for those around them. Unlike many ailments and disorders, it is not something that can be clearly seen like a broken arm. Consequently, it is often misunderstood or even dismissed by those who are not familiar with the condition and it often strikes down high performance athletes and active business people. The symptoms, which unfortunately are not alleviated by rest, are generally characterised by disabling physical and mental fatigue, sleep difficulties, headaches, sore throats, concentration and memory difficulties, muscle pain and dizziness. Nathan Butler, Director of Active Health Clinic (AHC) says, "We all get tired after a busy day and rest is the solution. But fatigue is like having long-haul jet lag all the time and there is nothing you can do about it. Due to the severity and long term effects it can be debilitating in so many ways. CFS sufferers not only feel the immediate effects of fatigue but it can cause problems in their ability to socialise, attend work and/or school and earn a living. In some cases, this can lead to isolation and depression."
Accredited as an Exercise Physiologist, Nathan spent time working at Melbourne's Austin Hospital before heading to London and working at the Royal Free Hospital in the areas of CFS as well as cardiac, respiratory and orthopaedic rehabilitation. Whilst in the UK, he was involved in the PACE study which investigated treatments for CFS.
In 2008 Nathan established Active Health Clinic. With his values of long term self management through knowledge, compassion and trust, AHC has become a leader in the field of CFS treatment.
The AHC approach
"Our team has been treating adults and adolescents with fatigue for over 15 years both here in Australia and internationally. We are all understanding of the condition, compassionate, positive and believe in the power of a sense of humour when needed." Nathan continues, "Unfortunately there is no 'quick fix' but we strongly believe through both experience and research that CFS sufferers can decrease physical and mental fatigue, improve their sleep and concentration and get more energy to perform the activities they want to do, and quite simply, feel better. We aim to give the person the best quality of life that they can have."
The AHC approach is holistic, treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms. Their team comprises tertiary trained exercise physiologists, psychologists and dietician who address the physiological, psychological and nutritional aspects with an emphasis on:
Having less "bad days" and more "OK days" which can lead to some "normal" days or a better quality of life through insight and control
Achieving personal goals that once seemed impossible
Getting a refreshing night's sleep
Independence and imparting skills to deal with future problems.
The program is designed for people of all levels in such a way that their body adapts physically whilst not making them feel worse; a real problem with some approaches to CFS. A person’s activity baseline could simply be sitting or standing up or maybe 30 minutes of walking depending on the severity of their illness.
Testimony to the effectiveness of their program and the connection they make with their clients is the wall of postcards, in their reception area. Amongst the others from exotic places around the world, one in particular catches the eye. It is all the way from the Mornington Peninsula, a day trip that most of us would take for granted. Here is an expression of excitement and thanks from someone who, for years, could not imagine being able to ever do something like that again.
AHC and Saward Dawson
Nathan originally heard of Saward Dawson when we were involved with people undertaking the government-funded New Enterprise Incentive Scheme program at Box Hill Institute of TAFE. As part of this program, students met with an accountant to receive preliminary advice in relation to a small business they were proposing to establish.
Following Nathan’s completion of the program (he is a great advocate for the NEIS), he asked Saward Dawson to act as his accountants for his new business. Since then we have assisted AHC with the annual accounting and taxation compliance requirements that arise from being a small business. We have also helped AHC with various consulting matters such as business structuring issues and transitioning business information to a cloud accounting program.
CFS is full of mystery and recovery can be slow. But the AHC approach does turn lives around as one of their former patients testifies, "It was an isolating illness but I am living proof that you can recover. I appreciate life more than ever now and consider myself lucky to have endured this illness as my new gained strength helps me to plan and pursue future ambitions. I am back to work, playing sport and socialising again."
Nathan says to those suffering CFS, "We don’t want to see you in the long term (don’t take it personally!). Our treatment has an end point as we believe that management should be focused on learning and independence. We teach you the tools so you don’t need us. We just love to see people regain their lives."
Visit Active Health Clinics website at www.activehealthclinic.com.au.